Mexico polesitter Bottas laments ‘very tricky’ afternoon after race-ruining first lap contact with Ricciardo
Valtteri Bottas’ hard work in taking a scintillating pole position on Saturday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was undone after just one corner of the Mexico City Grand Prix, when he was tagged into a spin by Daniel Ricciardo – with Bottas then forced to spend most of the race tucked up behind the Australian’s rear wing, as he came home a dismal P15.
Bottas looked to have made a decent getaway from pole position, but was outdragged by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who from third on the grid swept past at Turn 1 and into a lead that he’d hold onto till the chequered flag, to claim his third Mexican victory.
Behind, though, Bottas was tagged by a late-braking Ricciardo, the Finn’s spin then causing a melee that saw Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher retire.
Following immediate pit stops for both Ricciardo and Bottas, the Mercedes driver then spent much of the rest of the race corked up behind his aggressor, trailing Ricciardo for the majority of the Grand Prix, a state of affairs that left Bottas frustrated at the race end.
“Very, very tricky,” reckoned Bottas after the race. “For me obviously quite compromised with the first corner incident, and then I was stuck behind cars that I couldn’t pass. It was really tricky and also I was quite limited with the engine and brake temperatures, so I couldn’t attack many laps in a row. So I had to go back and forwards and couldn’t find a way to progress.”
Pressed on why he was unable to find a way past the McLaren of his old Formula Renault 2.0 rival Ricciardo, meanwhile, Bottas replied: “It was tricky. [McLaren] have the same power unit, they have good straightline speed. He was defending well and I just couldn’t find a way.”
More frustration was to come for Bottas too, with the Finn’s second pit stop of the afternoon taking Mercedes a full 11.7s – while Bottas would then be stopped twice more for soft tyres in the closing stages of the race, as Mercedes attempted to steal the fastest lap point off Verstappen.
And while Bottas eventually claimed that fastest lap, the achievement wasn't sufficient to brighten his mood, as he trailed home 15th – with the fact that he finished outside the top 10 meaning that Bottas failed to claim the fastest lap point for himself.
“At least one point [that I took away from Verstappen], that’s something,” said Bottas. “Obviously a lot less than what I aimed [for] today. Not my lucky day.”
Bottas’ team mate Lewis Hamilton would eventually finish P2 to Verstappen as Sergio Perez claimed third in front of his home fans, meaning Red Bull moved to within one point of Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, with four races to go.